It has been nearly six months since my dad passed away at age 94, and I find myself reflecting on his amazing ability to stay young at heart his entire life. Meanwhile, I’ve been noticing lately that people’s chronological age is often quite different from how they seem. Some people already seem quite old in their 40s and 50s, while others have youthful zest for many decades after that.
Here are 5 of my dad’s secrets to uncommon youthfulness—secrets for experiencing the Fountain of Youth no matter how old you are:
- Keep active (Don’t neglect your PHYSICAL health). In his 60s, Dad was still playing handball, tennis, and golf. And in his 80s he would go to the local Walmart or Sam’s Club, not to shop but to walk around and get some exercise. He understood the old maxim, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” and he did his very best to take care of his body.
- Keep learning (Don’t neglect your MENTAL health). If Dad were still alive today, we would be having lively conversations about the latest news on the Presidential candidates or the economy. And he would be absolutely ecstatic that BOTH the Ohio State Buckeyes and Carolina Panthers are undefeated at this point in their seasons. You see, Dad was a lifelong learner, never tiring of reading another book or newspaper to find out what’s happening in the world.
- Keep dreaming (Don’t neglect your EMOTIONAL health). One important lesson I gleaned from Dad was that he always made sure to have something to look forward to. It might be a cruise, a trip here to Charlotte or back to Ohio, or simply a concert or musical he wanted to see. Even on the days when not much was going on in his life, he found hope and excitement as he contemplated the coming events on his calendar. So here’s a new maxim I’ve come up with to explain this wise practice: Life is DREARY when you quit DREAMING! God says He has plans to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11), and that perspective is a critical component of our emotional health.
- Keep loving (Don’t neglect your SOCIAL health). My dad’s last 25 years turned out to be some of the happiest, most joy-filled times of his life. There may have been a number of reasons for this, but number one on the list would surely be the love he shared with his wonderful wife Delores. Their relationship was a fantastic testimony that you can still be “in love” even in your final decades. Countless medical studies have proven that if you don’t have anybody to love, you’re bound to age more rapidly. In fact, if you’re no longer loving, you’re already dying. But what if you don’t have a spouse to share your love with? In addition to his relationship with Delores, Dad continually reached out in love to my brother and I and the grandchildren—and he was still offering us his wise counsel until just weeks before his death.
- Keep praying (Don’t neglect your SPIRITUAL health). Dad was puzzled that so few of the seniors in his community had any interest in spiritual matters or church. He and Delores rarely missed a Sunday, and their deep faith was an important ingredient in their vitality. Whenever I have birthday, I find myself claiming the Bible’s promises in Psalm 103:4-5 MSG: “He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in His presence.”
I encourage you to take another look at this passage in Psalm 103 and claim its promises for your life today. No matter what you may have gone through in the past, God wants to crown you with love and mercy. And although He wants you to take good care of your physical body, He also offers you something much more important: “beauty eternal.”
So, my friend, there really IS a Fountain of Youth available to you. God can renew your youth each day, because “you’re always young in His presence.”
As I get ready to hit a milestone myself, those are great words to keep in mind. In fact, I think I’ll post those five items on my refrigerator, so that I see them each day and can hopefully keep them as part of my daily action items. Thanks so much! I always appreciate your down-to-earth insight!